You really can make a cake, pancakes or biscuits without a mix. Try making just one thing from scratch and see how you like the results. Once you have a few skills and ingredients, it doesn’t take much more time than using a mix and the results are worth it. When you bake from scratch you control exactly what you put in your mixing bowl and on your family’s plates. You can tailor a recipe to suit your family’s tastes and dietary needs. Make the recipe once as written, but then you can adapt is as you like. You can change recipes to include whole grain flours, to reduce the fat, salt or sugar or substitute for ingredients that you don’t like or can’t eat for whatever reason.
Most things like pancakes and cakes are not as hard as you would think. And they are so much better when you make them from scratch. One trip to the grocery store will get you the ingredients you need for so many recipes. And the time you spend with your family trying something new is worth a little extra time.
I am including our favorite recipe for pancakes, which can be adapted as I have noted. Try them just once and I think you will be surprised at your results. Please post comments and let me know how the recipe worked for you.
12 four-inch pancakes
1 cup all-purpose flour (see notes)
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk (see notes)
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil (not olive oil)
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional, but really tasty)
Milk or water
Start heating a lightly greased griddle or skillet over medium heat. Stir together in a large bowl the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda. In a separate bowl, beat together the egg, buttermilk, oil and vanilla, if using. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients all at once and stir gently, but thoroughly. Don’t try to get all the lumps out, but make sure there aren’t any dry pockets of flour. If batter is too thick to pour, add milk or water, a tablespoon at a time until batter is thinner. Drop batter onto the hot, greased pan or griddle with a spoon, ladle or measuring cup. Or use a mixing bowl with a spout and pour them onto the griddle. Aim for pancakes that are about 4 inches across. Leave the pancakes alone until the edges look dry and there are bubbles over the whole surface. Flip over and cook about the same length of time, or a little less, on the other side. Serve as they are cooked or keep hot in a 250 degree oven or toaster oven. If you have any left over, they can be cooled on racks and then kept in an airtight container at room temperature for a day or two, or frozen for several months. Warm in a toaster oven or toaster just until hot, not crunchy.
Note: I make these whole wheat pancakes by substituting ¾-1 cup white whole wheat flour for the same amount of all-purpose flour. If you are starting out with whole wheat, use ¼ cup to start and increase it next time if you like the flavor. You can branch out to other flours like barley and rye, if you feel like being adventurous.
Buttermilk comes in 1-cup cartons at the grocery store, and really makes a wonderful pancake. It also keeps for weeks in the fridge. But, if you don’t want to buy buttermilk, you can use about ½ cup plain yogurt and ½ cup regular milk in place of the buttermilk. Or you can measure 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar into your measuring cup and fill it the rest of the way with milk. Stir and let sit for 10-15 minutes to let the milk sour.